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2010

Starting Grants

Dr. Emar Maier

Dr. Emar Maier
Dr. Emar Maier

Dr. Emar Maier has been rewarded an ERC Starting Grant for his research on blended discourse. His research combines a new philosophical insight on the nature of reported speech with formal semantic rigor and linguistic data from child language experiments, native signers, and Greek philology.

A fundamental feature of language is that it allows us to reproduce what others have said. It is traditionally assumed that there are two ways of doing this: direct discourse, where people preserve the original speech act verbatim, and indirect discourse, where people paraphrase it in their own words. In accordance with this dichotomy, linguists have posited a number of universal characteristics to distinguish the two modes. At the same time, they are seeing more and more examples that seem to fall somewhere in between. Maier rejects the direct–indirect distinction and replace it with a new paradigm of blended discourse.

Combining insights from philosophy and linguistics, his framework has only one kind of speech reporting, in which a speaker always attempts to convey the content of the reported words from her own perspective, but can quote certain parts verbatim, thereby effectively switching to the reported perspective.    

To explain why some languages are ‘shiftier’ than others, he hypothesizes that a greater distance from face-to-face communication, with the possibility of extra- and paralinguistic perspective marking, necessitated the introduction of an artificial direct–indirect separation. He tests this hypothesis by investigating languages that are closely tied to direct communication: Dutch child language, as recent studies hint at a very late acquisition of the direct–indirect distinction; Dutch Sign Language, which has a special role shift marker that bears a striking resemblance to the quotational shift of blended discourse; and Ancient Greek, where philologists have long been of serving perspective shifts.

Profile page of Dr. Emar Maier

Dr. Mark de Vries

Dr. Mark de Vries
Dr. Mark de Vries

The linguistic research of Dr Mark de Vries aims to determine and theoretically explain the properties of incomplete parentheses, in comparison to regular instances of ellipsis and fragments.

Ellipsis, that is, leaving out words (or leaving out phrases) that can be semantically implied, is pervasive in language, and not in the least in parenthetical contexts. Parentheses, such as this one in italics, are not directly part of the matrix (the host clause), but often involve a secondary proposition: they represent side information. They may have a modal import, and can be partly implicit. This makes it difficult to determine the syntactic structure, and sometimes even to classify the relevant examples. Still, the study of incomplete parenthesis is largely terra incognita. The accumulating knowledge of regular ellipsis will help to better understand parenthesis. Furthermore, there are reasons to believe that ellipsis and fragmentation may sometimes work out differently in parenthetical contexts. Factors that play a role here are information structure, focus, intonation, and the direction of anaphoric dependency (forward or backward reduction). De Vries expects to find kinds of ellipsis that can be found in parentheses but not in regular (coordinated) clauses, and vice versa. This, then, may ultimately lead to extending and improving the knowledge of ellipsis in general.

It will not be easy to disentangle all the relevant variables that are involved. Therefore, De Vries intends to approach the subject matter as systematically as possible, by stepwise building a typology of (incomplete) parenthetical constructions and amalgamated sentences based on grammatical features. All data and results will be collected in a specialized database that will eventually be made publicly available via an online application. The intended system, of which a prototype called “paracrawler” is currently under development, allows De Vries to map the relevant inventory of construction types within each particular language on an n‑dimensional space defined by the descriptive grammar. This will facilitate both comparative linguistics and theoretical analysis.

Profile page of Dr. Mark de Vries

Dr. Nathan Lillie

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the number of blue-collar workers sent abroad by their employers. These employers are usually subcontractors or work agencies set up for the purpose of sending employees abroad. Under European Union law, these “posted” workers can be treated under conditions determined in their home country rather than the destination country where they work. What is the impact of this on working conditions and the right to trade union representation?

The FEB research team, consisting of Lillie, one post doc and two PhD's, will study the growth of ‘posted’ migrant work in the European Union, and the impact of this on industrial relations. Employers can now, to a large extent, apply home country conditions to workers posted abroad.  Host country unions and governments are legally constrained in their representation of these workers. Sovereignty has been reconfigured, through EU law and firm practice, so that nations are no longer free to regulate working conditions in their territories. The FEB researchers hypothesize that this “variegation” of national industrial relations sovereignty is leading to segmented labour markets, with posted migrants making up a lower tier of workers, no longer entitled to the rights and protections workers have enjoyed in Europe since the Second World War. The research will involve fieldwork in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and Brussels.  In a series of interviews, the experiences of posted migrants and 'native' workers who work with them will be recorded. Furthermore there will be interviews of managers, union officials, and policy makers, to trace the linkage between labour mobility, changes in firm subcontracting strategy, and legal/political changes in the sovereignty norm as applied to industrial relations.

Prof. Dr. Leon Koopmans

Prof. Dr. Leon Koopmans
Prof. Dr. Leon Koopmans

Terwijl medio juli in Groningen de mussen van het dak vallen, zit onderzoeker Lon Koopmans in Brussel. Niet om vakantie te vieren, maar om zijn ERC Starting Grant-aanvraag te verdedigen voor de ERC-commissie. Met succes. Begin augustus hoort hij dat de Starting Grant, groot anderhalf miljoen euro, is toegewezen.  De ERC Starting Grant is een persoonsgebonden Europese subsidie die onderzoekers op een adequate wijze ondersteunt tijdens een periode waarin ze van plan zijn een onderzoeksteam of een onderzoeksprogramma op te richten.  Koopmans, als astronoom werkzaam bij het Kapteyn-instituut van de RUG, is een van de vier onderzoekers die in deze ronde van de prestigieuze Europese grant kuit schiet.

Profielpagina van Prof. Dr. Leon Koopmans

Laatst gewijzigd:09 augustus 2018 16:04